It's pretty much undeniable that today's social-media-obsessed culture expects you to build your brand online—even as you're still building your skills in the studio. The positives of gaining exposure as a student are obvious, and posting your dance accomplishments may feel natural if you're already personally prolific on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook.
Former Los Angeles Ballet soloist and Harvard graduate Liz Walker (courtesy Walker)
For Harvard grad and professional ballerina, Liz Walker, school and dance were always separate. In high school, she studied at a private, all-girls school by day and trained at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School by night. At the same time she was auditioning for professional companies, she was applying to colleges. But when the time came to decide between her education and her dance career, Walker struggled to figure out what path was her own. Eventually choosing to go back and forth between Los Angeles Ballet, freelance work, and Harvard University, Walker graduated with a degree in the history of art and architecture after four years in 2011—and rose to soloist rank in just eight seasons. Here, she tells her story and explains her decision to do both. —Sophie Robertson
As a dancer with Ailey II, Kyle Martin figured out how to get his body through a heavy performance schedule. (Photo by Nan Melville)
Landing your first professional dance gig is a dream come true—and a huge learning opportunity. We talked to four young dancers about what they've learned from their first jobs, and how those lessons have strengthened their careers.
Marko Germar auditioned for 'So You Think You Can Dance' three times before making the cut (courtesy Adam Rose/FOX)
Every dancer knows the audition process is full of rejection. But hearing "no" again and again, from the same casting team, and then coming back for more? That takes some serious motivation. These dancers were all cut multiple times from auditions for their dream jobs, took it in stride, and ended up getting the gig.
If you want to go far with dance after college, head to your university's career services office early and often. "We try to see all first-years during their first semester," says Faith McClellan, director of Field Work Term and career development at Bennington College in Bennington, VT. "That's when you should ask the big questions: What you love about dance, what you want to know about the field of dance, where you want to fit in the broader dance world, and how you want experiences like internships or intensives to help you explore those questions." Whether you're set on going pro right after graduation or just want your postgrad work to be somehow connected to dance, on-campus career counseling can prep you to do amazing things with your dance degree.